Fingerprint biometrics bring 360 degrees of navigation to cell phones

* AuthenTec teams with Fujitsu to offer 360 degrees of navigation

Last week's newsletter about Upek's fingerprint reader with built in single sign-on (SSO) properties was written just a day before another big announcement in the biometric/fingerprint space, one which was just as interesting - at least to me - because it highlights another area I believe fingerprint biometrics are crucial - cell phones.

AuthenTec announced a new feature to be included with the latest phone from Fujitsu – and not just any phone, but the “new FOMA F906i ultra-thin world phone.” The fact that Fujitsu and Authentec have teamed up to put a fingerprint sensor on a phone isn’t all that newsworthy, after all this is the 16th such combination. What is newsworthy is what you can do with it – the fingerprint reader and software aren’t just for unlocking the keypad on this phone.

This is the first Fujitsu phone to offer TrueNavTM, allowing users a full 360 degrees of browser, menu and document navigation via the integrated AES1710 fingerprint sensor. What does that “360 degrees of navigation mean?” It means fingertip ease when navigating the screen.

That’s right, not only is the AES1710 a fingerprint reader, but it also is a touch-screen device. What can you do with it? According to Kengo Kobayashi, (president of AuthenTec KK – Japan), it enables full touchpad emulation, providing intuitive (and accurate) on-screen menu navigation. This gives users a full range of device navigation by moving their finger across the surface of the sensor to control a full-featured browser, manipulate documents, stored files, contact lists and to control a variety of phone functions.

The F906i is currently only available in Japan to NTT DoCoMo subscribers. The rest of us can only sigh with envy when we look at a partial list of its capabilities:

• 3G/GSM international roaming.TM mobile credit payments.

• GPS map navigation.

• High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA).

• "One-Segment" mobile TV.

• DoCoMo’s DCMX mobile credit card.

• iD

• Wide VGA LCD screen.

• Two (2!) cameras (3.2 megapixel and 320 kilopixel).

• Access to diverse video content and services, including DOCOMO's Music & Video Channel which provides more than 100 channels of downloadable broadcasts spanning 14 genres.

And, of course, biometric authentication for security. Can your iPhone do that? Start bugging your carrier now to begin stocking this powerhouse.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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